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Reviews79 particularly male prerogative, and the Romantic image of the solitary wanderer, straying far from die beaten track and tasting life at its most intense, was an image that served men better than it did women in the Victorian age. Buzard further observes that certain literary works employed the "family abroad" plot to expose women as "tourists" by nature, because of their superficiality, their need to travel in die constant company of others, and their habit of recreating domestic arrangements abroad, all of which were anathema to die post-Romantic traveller's quest for freedom and transformation. Although Buzard's discussion of gender and travel takes us farther than, for example, Eric Leed's curious theory of the "spermatic journey" in The Mind of the Traveller (1991), his almost exclusive use of fictional works written mostly be men leaves us with no sense of die influence of real women's dissenting views or, for diat matter, of what they really did when abroad. One must finally return, in fact, to the fraught question of how well we can "historicize" any cultural phenomenon by relying on literary works as our primary body of evidence. Buzard argues tiiat the Continental tour was more an affair of "writing" than of "reality," and diat to disbelieve this is naive. His book amply illustrates the important role of literature in structuring and interpreting — in an endless circle of influence — the world of the nineteenth-century tourist. But what is meant here by "reality"? Readers may agree tiiat literary works speak volumes about die construction of meaning in Victorian culture, but they may also wish for a more critical study of the problematic relations between literature and life. PATRICIA JASEN Lakehead University Ann Cvetkovich. Mixed Feelings: Feminism, Mass Culture and Victorian Sensationalism. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992. ? + 227. $42 US (cloth); $16 US (paper). M ixed Feelings: Feminism, Mass Culture and Victorian Sensationalism, by University of Texas professor Ann Cvetkovich focuses on die politics of sensation fiction in England in die 1860s. Like Jane Tompkin's Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work ofAmerican Fiction 1790-1860, Mixed Feelings attempts to create a critical space for popular literature considered aesthetically inferior and morally 80Victorian Review questionable, largely because it was produced primarily for and by women. But Cvetkovich refuses to accept the argument put forward in recent feminist literary criticism such as Tompkins's Sensational Designs, Showalter's A Literature of Their Own, Radway's Reading the Romance, and Modleski's Loving With a Vengeance, that women's popular culture is naturally subversive; that self-expression automatically leads to liberation. As part of a larger critical study of the history of the body, Mixed Feelings is an examination of the nineteenth-century discourse of affect, which charts Cvetkovich's own ambivalence toward a narrowly feminist approach that naturalizes affect. "Like sexuality and other physical processes, affect is not a pre-discursive entity" (24). Cvetkovich attempts to enrich a feminist approach to mass culture by historicizing the structures of fantasy, desire and affect explored in psychoanalytical feminism and by locating the sources of Victorian fictional heroines' suffering in patriarchal capitalism. She also draws on recent feminist film theorizations of melodrama to situate the sensation novel within a larger cultural frame. Following Foucault's lead, Cvetkovich challenges the "repressive hypothesis" that naturalizes affect as the hidden source of the true self rather than viewing it as a culturally produced sign. Instead of assuming that the expression of affect automatically leads to social change, Cvetkovich argues that expression of affect can often diffuse rather than activate the power of political critique. Sensationalism makes the invisible sensible and the abstract concrete, but the cost of this symbolic function is a political loss in diat it situates suffering in the realm of the individual rather than the collective, the personal rather than the political. Sensationalism problematically reduces "a complex set of factors to a single legible difference" (33). Consequently, affect can become "not the mechanism for the liberation of the self but instead the mechanism for the containment and discipline of the self" (31). In four chapters, Cvetkovich analyzes the politics of affect in three of the most well-known sensation...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 79-81
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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